A key outcome of the local Community safety strategy is: There will be an increase in the provision of recovery and support opportunities for individuals and families who have been impacted by substance use and the criminal justice system and intricately linked are the outcomes concerned with improving community cohesion and lowering the level of local anxiety that exists in relation to substance use. This Strategy most importantly is a framework for community action and agency collaboration and there are proposed projects and various programmes of activities that should enable the community and its partners to successfully work towards achieving these agreed outcomes.
The period of community consultation and survey work had highlighted a considerable level of local concerns about substance use and a range of associated negative behaviours, criminal activity, and anti-social behaviour. This then was going to present a particularly challenging community safety priority, but I was reassured that a positive path could be navigated through some of my early involvement with the proposed Creative Communities Project which was intending to adopt a Look Behind the Labels approach. Although this inter agency collaboration bid to Inspiring Scotland was unsuccessful, the dialogue and thinking involved in working up the bid provided a strong indication as to how a local community-based and empathetic approach to working with individuals and families involved with problematic substance use might be the most effective way to move forward. This ethos and approach has enabled an important partnership to develop within the last few months with Addictions, Support Counselling: Forth Valley Recovery Community (FVRC) where the Our Place Project has been able to facilitate a community-based approach to providing local activities and opportunities for members of that Recovery Community. This has been welcomed by the FVRC and the wider community have acknowledged their increased positive visibility and their valued contribution to the wider wellbeing and improvement of the local community. This has been especially noted as the FVRC have recently been involved in local community clear ups and three massively successful litter picks and are now regular participants with the #tidycleangreen campaign.
In my initial meetings with local drugs agencies and through some peer interviews conducted by FVRC I was made acutely aware of some of the social challenges that confront individuals who are ready or are beginning to approach their recovery journey. I was provided with a number of testimonials form local people and clearly the need for support and positive reinforcement from the local community are critically important factors in any local person’s start of a recovery lifestyle. I have been impressed with how FVRC are providing strong role models through involving individuals with lived experience within their local community and how that can illustrate and provide hope for others and facilitate a realisation that there are community-based support structures in place so that you can make that first step to getting better. This approach is a means that enables individuals to reengage with their local community without being permanently stigmatised and marginalised from the people and support networks which can be nurtured and developed around them.
The notion of visibility is a core part of this particular community safety partnership and we are therefore incredibly happy to announce that we will be launching a Forth Valley Recovery Drop-in session every Monday and operating out of Tamfourhill Community Hub. This drop-in will provide a plethora of support services and activities for its members and it will similarly be welcoming to family and friends of individuals who are dealing with or moving into recovery from substance dependency. This new drop-in provision meets the key outcomes as described in the introduction of this article and it is the beginning of a community development process that I will be supporting in an ongoing basis. There is an environmental programme attached to this drop-in so expect to see further regular litter picks carried out by members of the recovery community, participation in the canal clear up programme, rambles round the scenic spots of Camelon and Tamfourhill and in the longer term some conservation projects. The drop-in provision is scheduled to open towards the end of this month and there will be a launch event where other partners and guests will be cordially invited to attend. For further information about FVRC please go to this link: